Banner image with name. Resource name: Assessment and feedback: The essentials

1. Types of

2. Marking

3. Fair

4. Giving

4. Giving feedback

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The University's Principles of Feedback

The University’s Principles of Feedback outline the standards expected of feedback for enhancing student learning:

An image showing the principles of feedback

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing effective feedback. The methods you use will depend upon the needs of the subject and the teaching styles and learning modes used across a programme.


What you can do

  • Make sure that your students are also familiar with the principles of feedback from the beginning of their studies. This will help them to understand what they can expect from feedback at the University.
  • Find ways to consistently review your feedback processes, and engage students in dialogue about what types of feedback are useful for them, and how your feedback could be improved.


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How can you make sure that feedback is useful?

Assessment drives and is for learning. This doesn’t happen without good quality, useful and timely feedback.

Feedback helps students to:

  • Understand the marks they have been given.
  • Know where/what to improve for future assessments.
  • Understand their progress against learning outcomes.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Improve their understanding of subject material and build upon their learning.
  • Develop assessment literacy skills.
  • Make choices regarding study pathways.
  • Become self-reflective practitioners and lifelong learners.

Feedback is always formative, even when given on summative assessments.

What you can do

  • Review an example of your feedback using the bullet points above. Does your feedback fulfil these points?
  • Ask your students if the feedback they are given aligns with the bullet points above.


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What makes feedback helpful for students?

The following table describes the characteristics of helpful feedback, and offers some specific ideas for making your feedback better quality.

Feedback characteristic Practical ideas
Personal, relevant and specific
  • Students should feel like you are speaking to them as an individual, and that you are specifically commenting on their piece of work.
  • Focus on the elements that are important for future assignments.
  • Be specific - try to avoid using statements like ‘good’, or ‘needs improving’, or ‘this was not correct’, or ticks/crosses!
Actionable (all feedback should feed-forward)
  • Provide specific actions for future assignments.
  • This is where a knowledge of the programme as a whole is useful.
Constructive, encouraging and motivating
  • Be constructive, and design your feedback to aid a student to improve.
  • Adopt an encouraging tone, and offer realistic suggestions for improvement, whilst not shying away from criticism.
  • This is the case even if a student has done well in an assignment - a student should still know why they did well, and what they should take forward to future assignments.
Encourages various forms of dialogue
  • What opportunities do students have to discuss their feedback with their academic tutors?
Clearly linked to assessment criteria
  • This can easily be done by providing a highlighted marking matrix/rubric for each student to show how they performed against the criteria.
  • Time feedback so as to be useful for future assessments.
  • There is the expectation that students should receive personal feedback within three weeks of the deadline for an assessment.


Below are three fictional examples of feedback given to a student. Click on the exclamation mark icons to see some comments on aspects of these examples.

Below are some different ways of delivering feedback, and allowing students to engage with and act upon that feedback:

How it works
Technology Some of the tools provided by the University help you to provide useful feedback.
  • Turnitin provides tools that enable you to quickly and easily re - purpose commonly used comments (Quickmarks)
  • Kaltura & Turnitin enables audio and video feedback to be given to students.
  • Blackboard (MOLE) can be used to create self-marked tests/quizzes with automated feedback
Peer assessment Provide an opportunity for students to assess each others work. Students are often willing to share feedback with each other, allowing different concepts and ways of working to be explored. This can easily be facilitated through the Turnitin PeerMark facility.
Cohort feedback You could provide some cohort generic feedback (in addition to individual feedback) to highlight common pitfalls or misunderstandings and give students a chance to talk to both you and their peers about their work. This could be via written, audio or video feedback.
Clarification Students may want to speak to the marker to help better understand their feedback. Having open office hours, or other opportunities to speak to the marker, gives students a chance to engage in dialogue about their work.
Other opportunities for feedback There are ways in which you can incorporate more informal opportunities for feedback throughout a unit of learning. Below are just a few examples of ways to do this:
  • In-class quizzes
  • Short non-assessed submissions (e.g. 200-word journal entries in advance of an assessed piece of reflective writing)
  • Class discussions
  • Feedback on progress reports


There is a lot of evidence to suggest that students don’t always understand that feedback has been given unless it is in a written format attached to a submitted piece of work (i.e. ‘formal’ feedback). If feedback is not in this format then you need to make it clear to students that it does constitute feedback.

Image for case study: Image for audio feedback

Case study: How to incorporate audio feedback into the formative marking process

Gareth Bramley from the School of Law has experimented with providing audio feedback to his students, in an effort to increase active engagement with the feedback given.

The response from students has been encouraging, with students commenting that the feedback feels more personal and encouraging. In this blog post, Gareth details his experience and offers some advice for those wanting to try this feedback method.


What you can do

  • Could you try out a new method of giving feedback - for example audio feedback or cohort feedback?
  • Familiarise yourself with the structure of the courses your students are taking. How can you make your feedback useful for the students not just in your module, but over the whole of their journey?
  • Remember to make it clear to students when they are getting feedback, especially if it is not in a written format.


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Additional resources

This video shows the student view on what makes feedback useful for them

This guidance from the Digital Learning Team shows you how to set up ‘QuickMarks’ on Turnitin

This guidance from the Digital Learning Team shows you how to create self-marked tests/quizzes on Blackboard (MOLE)

View guidance from APSE on the Principles of Feedback



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